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NEW YORK, 8 September 2006—The American artist Kehinde Wiley (b. 1977, Los Angeles) has employed the classic bust as a new medium in his exploration of the sacred and secular themes of the Renaissance and Baroque and his continued wry commentary on lingering, mass media stereotypes about masculinity, race and class in Western society today. CerealArt in Philadelphia is introducing the first two, in a series of three, cast marble and resin busts by the New York-based artist.

The first bust is a Bernini influenced, Baroque style composition positioning an anonymous, young black man dressed in contemporary urban street attire styled as a 17th century European monarch complete with the embedded codes of European gesture, pose and the requisite power and beneficence in the regard. The irony is self-evident.

Kehinde Wiley Bust: Untitled # 1
12" x 10" x 6" / 30.48cm x 25.4cm x 15.24cm
Cast marble dust and resin
Edition: 250 signed and numbered
Photo courtesy of CerealArt

The 2nd Neoclassical bust is reminiscent of a philosopher in Raphael’s School of Athens. The athletic, young black man dressed in street attire holds a book, scepter and a cognac bottle substituted for a wine jug.  The composition is familiar but the specific influences or appropriations are beyond easy recognition.

Kehinde Wiley Bust: Untitled # 2
12" x 10" x 6" / 30.48cm x 25.4cm x 15.24cm
Cast marble dust and resin
Edition: 250 signed and numbered
Photo courtesy of CerealArt

Although Kehinde Wiley's works reference specific paintings by Titian and Tiepolo, he draws from a range of art historical and vernacular styles in his compositions, from the French Rococo to the contemporary urban street. He describes his approach as "interrogating the notion of the master painter, at once critical and complicit." He makes figurative paintings that "quote historical sources and position young, black men within that field of power.'' He deliberately mixes images of power and spirituality, using them as a filter in the portrayal and commentary of contemporary African-American masculinity.

After receiving his MFA from Yale University in 2001 Kehinde Wiley began exhibiting at Deitch Projects in New York and the Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago. His exhibition Infinite Mobility recently appeared at the Brooklyn Museum in New York and is traveling to The Columbus Museum. He opens a new exhibition of paintings at Rhona Hoffman in Chicago on 8 September 2006 where the busts are also available.

149 N 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Tel: (1) 215 627 50 60

Kehinde Wiley Web Site

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